History: Buena Park Architect and Resident William LeBaron Jenney – by Daniel Layman

Hey, there! I am a former long-time Buena Parker now retired in Florida. Before leaving Chicago, I spent a couple years writing a book on Buena Park’s history – may still finish it some day, but thought I might post some stories from my research here; please give me feedback, if you want more or do not find it of interest.

Here’s something I posted on another website recently regarding Buena Park architect and resident William LeBaron Jenney, who lived from 1891-1904 at 700 W. Bittersweet.

Wm. LeBaron Jenney’s house was originally at the eastern end of Bittersweet on the Lake Michigan shoreline (before landfill during 1925-35 extended Bittersweet eastward and created Waveland Golf Course (Marovitz) and Montrose Harbor, and the parklands around them.

Jenney moved into this house in 1891 and left Buena Park and Chicago in 1904 (died in CA in 1907). An owner of this house after Jenney (who moved to Pasadena, CA, where his wife and he died) was a notable developer.   

Albert Fuchs, Sr. Fuchs built the old Netherlands Apartment building at 4801 N. Kenmore that was torn down later to erect the Lawrence House there. Fuchs began as Chicago’s elite florist with his nursery and earlier home where the Chateau Hotel now stands on Halsted. Fuchs made a splash with plants and flowers at the 1893 Columbian Exposition.

With his profits, Fuchs developed the Chateau and paid for building the American Eagle building (which became a Studebaker showroom), the now razed Chateau Theatre, Sher-Lake Apartments at 839 W. Sheridan, and several buildings around his nursery on Halsted between Grace and Sheridan before buying Jenney’s house in 1921.

Shortly after he bought Jenney’s house, he split it into 2 12-room residences: one for him and one for his son. The Fuchs family was very “lively” – Fuch’s second wife Fanny Richter Fuchs was an opera diva who sang with the L.A. Philharmonic (in 1927) before she died of cancer. Fuchs turned his Chicago assets over to his son to manage and built a mansion on the Ocean in Santa Monica, CA (long gone).

In 1923, Fuchs announced plans to develop apartments on the Jenney homesite and later on landfill farther east on Bittersweet, but those plans took until 1952 to evolve: zoning battles, Fuchs’ death in the 1930s, and general economic decline in Buena Park. By the way Wm. Bryce Mundie, Jenney’s protege and partner (Mundie married a niece of Jenney’s) lived in a now razed house at 733 W. Gordon Terrace. Two Mundie/Jenney homes still stand in Buena Park at 737 and 741 W. Gordon Terrace. Happy to share more info with anyone interested!


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